March 6, 2024

The Rise of Consumer Tech in Healthcare

Former executive director of the White House Athletic Center, Ted Vickey, now a proud champion of digital health, held a 2015 workshop on Health Literacy and Consumer-Facing Technology during which he acknowledged, “...the computing power in the smartphones that we all have is more powerful than the computer used to put a man on the moon.”

With such a powerful computer in everyone’s pocket, industry after industry is figuring out how to offer a more convenient, interactive, accessible experience tailored for their customers.

What exactly is consumer tech?

Consumer tech is technology built specifically for the use of the general public. Everything from the phone you’re likely reading this on to the streaming device you log into each night counts as consumer tech.  Depending on its function, consumer tech should be accessible and easy for the average consumer - no training needed. 

History of consumer tech

In the early 20th century, consumer tech made its debut with the widespread adoption of broadcast receivers, allowing people everywhere to tune in to the radio. Thus began a tech evolution that brought forth everything from laptops and Fitbits to virtual reality and smartphones.

Over the decades, these products and accessibility to tech have transformed individual lives and played a pivotal role in shaping the world. With consumers actively participating in a continual innovation cycle, it was only a matter of time before consumer tech intersected with the healthcare industry. 

Consumer tech in healthcare

Health facilities used to feel more like a fortress of inaccessible records and information, but patients using new online clinical platforms to access their medical records, view lab results, consult with their doctors, and schedule telemedicine appointments are breaking down that wall. 

Between 2020 and 2022 alone, the number of US adults accessing medical records online jumped 50%, from 38% to 57%. Patients no longer need permission to actively participate in their healthcare. With the increasing availability of platforms like Epic and MyChart, which welcome frequent patient participation, they don’t have to. A 2022 Health Information National Trends survey noted that patients offered digital access to their records checked their records more frequently than in previous years. When patients are more engaged in their health journeys, the patient-provider partnership strengthens along with health outcomes. 

Patients aren’t the only ones benefiting from a new era of advanced consumer tech in healthcare. Providers are also exploring ways to work better with new tech at their fingertips. New AI-driven clinical platforms are transforming clinician workflows by automating rote work, saving time, and safeguarding against medical errors. Clinicians can foster more impactful relationships with their patients by sharing video instructions on their personal mobile devices, encouraging more positive health outcomes. With providers and patients taking advantage of the radical new tools at their disposal, the entire healthcare equation strengthens. 

What’s next?

As consumer tech in healthcare continues to evolve, the possibilities of its uses are exponential. From apps that can detect certain skin cancers to advanced AI-driven diagnostic tools, consumer tech is redefining the reality of modern medicine. Fitbits and other wearable medical trackers have the potential to offer personal patient data about lifestyle and DNA that could radically personalize treatment plans. With all the problems still to be solved, exciting innovations are in store on the healthcare horizon. 

Playback Health’s clinical platform offers revolutionary new connectivity for patients and providers alike. Get started today.